1. Stay on Budget
A “starter” home is exactly that. Your first home will most probably not be your dream home and you will not live there forever. But, this starter home can help you build equity so down the road you can afford that dream home.
Before you begin your home search, talk to a mortgage loan officer to understand how much home you can afford. Besides the monthly mortgage payment, you will also need to consider property taxes, insurance, association fees, if any, as well as future maintenance costs.
2. House or Condominium
Depending upon your lifestyle, either a single-family house or condominium may be the best option. A condo gives you freedom from many outdoor maintenance chores. And you may also enjoy the benefit of a community pool, workout area or other amenities. On the other hand, that free-standing house is all yours to enjoy without the bother of a condominium association and its dues and rules.
3. New or Old
A newly built home will mean more modern conveniences and an open floor plan. However, older “existing” homes can offer charm as well as offer up-to-date features. If an older, fixer upper appeals to you, then expect some sweat equity (or an investment) to improve the home. Can you afford those costs or do the needed work yourself?
You may need to be flexible about your location. A highly desirable area tends to have higher price tags for homes.
When you make a list of the features you want in your first home, keep in mind that you probably will not get all of them. Make priorities for your list. Is a garage necessary? Do you really need a third bedroom? Does the kitchen need to be an open plan? Is the school district important?
6. Open Mind
You may need to see past the clutter and old home decor to see a home’s true potential. Look beyond a terrible paint selection and think of the possibilities of what the home has to offer.
7. Offers and Home Inspection
When making an offer on a home through your real estate agent, be prepared for a counter offer or rejection. If the real estate market is brisk, you may need to act fast with your offer in order not to lose out. If you do not ultimately get the home, do not stress. Remember, there will be another home for you.
If your offer for the home is accepted, the deal is not done. You will need to have a whole-house inspection on the property. If there are problems with the home, these issues will need to be addressed and negotiated. If the home shows serious defects, you may want to rescind your offer.
8. You’ve Bought the Home
Once you have purchased your first home, your work is not over. You will need to save for future home-maintenance expenses. And, speaking of home maintenance, it is important to keep your home in good shape on a seasonal basis. Fix small problems immediately so they do not grow into larger ones. Before doing any major renovations, think about how the changes will affect the resale value of your home. Over improving may not bring in more money when it is time to sell.
Start looking for homes here!